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April 22, 2000

Hal Sutton


TODD BUDNICK: We've got Hal Sutton. Hal shot a 72 today. He is now at -13 for the tournament and your leader going into tomorrow. Let's go ahead through your birdies and bogeys, Hal, starting with No. 5.

HAL SUTTON: I hit the second shot in there about 50 feet above the hole, probably. Wind died on me, and the ball got past the hole on me. And I got up over that putt, and there was some kids playing down in front of us, so I asked my caddy to get them to stop the kids. The dad went down there and stayed with them. And I just never got my focus back on that first putt. I left it about 8 feet short, which was the worst spot you can make it, because if you miss that putt, it's going five feet by. So I missed it and made double. Then went to 6; hit a 9-iron in there about 15 feet left of the hole and made that. 7, I hit an 8-iron in there about 3 feet and made that. Then 14, hit a sand wedge, must have almost gone in the hole the way the crowd reacted. And then it came back probably about 15 feet, and I ended up making that --.

Q. 13.

HAL SUTTON: 13, I'm sorry. 14, drove it in the left rough. Put it in the right bunker out of the left rough, and hit a good bunker shot out, and about five or six feet, and hit the putt like I wanted to, and it didn't go in.

Q. Feel like you escaped at all today? Obviously you weren't on like you were yesterday.

HAL SUTTON: Yeah. There's a lot of good things about today's round, because I held it together. And it could have easily gotten away from me. I didn't hit the ball as well as I'd like to. And even the ones I did hit good didn't turn out good. Seems like every time I approached a shot I was behind the 8 ball. And my short game was really good today. I chipped the ball excellent and made the putts when I had to. So in a lot of ways I see today's round as being a confidence builder.

Q. How do you catch Hal Sutton, because you've been -- you're such a good frontrunner. What goes through your mind in that position?

HAL SUTTON: Well, the key playing this golf course is to drive it in the fairway. And I have not done that nearly as well this week as I normally did. Usually driving is the best part of my game. And today -- this week it's been maybe the weakest part of my game for some reason. So if you drive a ball in the fairway, you can play this golf course. I'm sure those guys that shot the good numbers today drove the ball really well, I'd be willing to bet on that.

Q. After the double at 5, how important was it to get those two strokes back on the next two holes?

HAL SUTTON: Big. Right there, it's looking like I might go the other way, and it's important right there to turn it right around. And I was right in between clubs on No. 6 when I hit, and I made up my mind I was going to hit the bigger one of the two, to make sure I got it on top of the ridge so I could have a decent birdie putt. And that was the sole reason, because I needed a birdie, and I needed a birdie in a hurry.

Q. After the 4-putt, sometimes when a putt gets away from somebody, you kind of get hesitant on the greens. You had 23 putts again, and you made a bunch of 4- and 5-footers on the back 9. What gave you the confidence to keep putting like you were on the 4-putt?

HAL SUTTON: You just told us how you think when you play (laughter.) That's not how I think. So that's your answer on how to be better.

Q. You know my game so well.

HAL SUTTON: You know what? I walked off that green and I evaluated what went wrong on that. It wasn't my putter that went wrong; it was my focus that went wrong. If I put my focus back on what I'm trying to do, then I don't need to doubt my putter, which is what I didn't do -- I mean that's what I tried to do.

Q. As a younger player, you don't know how to evaluate a hole like that, do you? This is where experience really comes into play?

HAL SUTTON: As a younger player you panic in a situation like that. I've done that before. I can remember distinctly at Bay Hill one year I was leading the tournament, playing with Greg Norman in the last group, and 4-putted the second green. It's hard to come back from that. But I've learned my lesson several times. So I need to put that to use.

Q. Seeing as you don't feel like you're driving it very well, and you've got a good lead, will you be more conservative tomorrow off the tee, maybe 3-woods and irons?

HAL SUTTON: No, I don't think so. When I say I'm not driving it very good, I've been just barely off the fairway all the time. And I don't think -- I hit one bad drive that I really thought was a real bad drive, and that was on the second hole. Other than that, I felt like I drove the ball very good, and I just could not get it to stay on the fairway. Like 11, I hit a perfect shot with a fade right down through there, it goes right into the edge of the light rough, but sitting where it looks like a jumper. It's always those kind --. 14, a foot into the deep rough right there. 15, I drove it right of his ball, and my ball kicked left in the rough. I'm this far off (indicating). So you don't abandon something when you feel like you're barely off. It's liable to be perfect tomorrow.

Q. Can I get a clarification, how far you were away on the 4-putt green? The first putt was how far?

HAL SUTTON: About 50 feet.

Q. You had the 3-stroke lead at THE PLAYERS Championship, and you seemed to have a gameplan that you stuck with throughout the round. Do you go into tomorrow's round the same way? Do you have a gameplan in your head, and do you have to worry about getting too conservative?

HAL SUTTON: Yeah, you've got to have a gameplan. And barring anything major happening, you've got to stick to that gameplan. I can't do anything about those other guys. I can only -- I've said this so many times, all I can do is go play my game and try to -- whatever is before me, try to do the best I can with that, try to stay in the present; and if I can do that, I think I'll come out on top.

Q. Andrew Magee mentioned the focus you had on the 18th tee at THE PLAYERS Championship. Needing to get a drive in the fairway and doing what you had to do, did you learn something from that round and did it carry over?

HAL SUTTON: Did I learn something from that round? I learn something from every round of golf I play. I just learn I need to stay focused and not worry about what the other guy is doing. I'm not sure I learned it, I might have relearned it. It might be emphasized in my mind, because of that. All you can do is see the fairway and see the green and try to react from that. But if you're seeing everything else out there, then you're having trouble.

End of FastScripts...

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